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22 J

The ground broke sharply downward toward the creek
bank. Here a few sycamores grew, with enormous, white
boles from which the umber bark crisped back, and beyond
them, willows. The water of the creek had shrunk to leave
a gravelly strip shelving off below the level where the
willow roots clove to the earth of the bank. Mr. Munn,
clutching the willows for support, let himself down off the
bank to the little strip of beach. With his gun in readiness,
he began to move down the creek. There would be a wider
place farther down, he remembered; there the visible stretch
of sky would be wider, and the water would spread out, with-
out current apparently and as smooth as a pond, reflecting
the sky and the overhanging trees. In a little while now, the
doves would begin coming over, toward the water. They
would head for that place, as they always, year after year,
had done. They would come over, their sharp, nervous wings
beating and their too-small heads out-thrust. Their swift
forms would look black against the paling, peach-coloured
sky. They would utter their sweet, breathless, complaining
cries,

He reached the wider space and stood in an embrasure of
the willows. He fixed his eyes on the sky, waiting. A little
way upstream the water made a soft, riffling murmur as it
slid over stones into the stillness of the wider basin. That
was the only sound he could distinguish.

The first dove came over, high, from the west, and dipped
and swung back. It sank, flutteringly, at the edge of the
water, downstream. He had had two chances for a shot,
when it first swung back and then when it started to flutter
down. The gun had been raised, and his finger on the trig-
ger, but he had not fired. Now he watched the bird that,
too far away for a good shot, was prinking at the edge of the
water. Then the bird rose, and flew off downstream. He was
a little ashamed and irritated that he had passed up the shot,
but, unreasoningly, he had not been able to bring himself to
press the trigger.

the next dove came over, he shot it  It came